South Korea strongly protested Japan’s repeated claim to its easternmost islets of Dokdo in Tokyo’s 2015 defense white paper on Tuesday, demanding “rectification” and warning of a negative impact on the bilateral relationship.
Kenji Kanasugi, minister and deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy, walks out of the building of the South Korean Foreign Ministry in central Seoul Tuesday, after receiving Seoul’s protest over Tokyo’s claim to Dokdo in its defense whitepaper. (Yonhap)
Seoul’s condemnation came right after Tokyo’s annual defense policy paper was presented to its Cabinet. Tokyo has included its sovereignty claim on Dokdo, called Takeshima in Japan, in its white paper for 11 consecutive years.
Seoul’s ministries of foreign affairs and defense called in senior officials from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to lodge a protest against the white paper.
“Tokyo’s act of including its frothy claim to Dokdo in its 2015 defense white paper is an act of denying its imperialist history of the invasion of the Korean Peninsula, and it let the international community know that it still does not recognize history accurately, even as it marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II,” Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We would also like to point out that the Japanese government’s provocation is an act nullifying our efforts to open a new future of the bilateral relationship while squarely facing the history, on the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties.”
The ministry called in Kenji Kanasugi, minister and deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy, to criticize Tokyo’s claim to Dokdo.
“At a critical juncture when there are the ongoing efforts to enhance the bilateral ties, (Japan) continuing this behavior is never helpful,” Lee Sang-deok, director general of Northeast Asian affairs at the ministry, told Kanasugi.
Earlier in the day, Seoul’s Defense Ministry also called in Nobuhisa Goto, a senior defense attache at the Japanese Embassy to deliver a letter of protest in which the ministry urged Tokyo to stop repeating its “wrongful” claim to the islets.
“We strongly protest the claim, and strongly urge Tokyo to rectify it immediately and take steps not to repeat this again,” reads the letter.
“We make it clear that Dokdo is the Republic of Korea’s territory historically, geographically and by international law. Japan should recognize the fact that as long as it continues its wrongful claim, it cannot expect the development of a future-oriented bilateral defense relationship.”
In the defense policy paper, Tokyo said that the territorial issues of the Northern Territories (or Kuril Islands) and Takeshima remained unresolved.
On a map depicting Japan’s major military installations, Dokdo is marked as part of Japanese territory, while the white paper incorporates the airspace over Dokdo as part of its territorial air.
In this year’s white paper, Japan underscored the escalating threat from China.
It noted that China is making what can be seen as “coercive” responses in its maritime activities. It also pointed to China’s push to develop a gas field in the East China Sea and turn reefs and rocks in the South China Sea into artificial islands to build military facilities.
As for North Korea, the white paper touched on Pyongyang’s development of a nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missile, saying that it could have a “grave impact” on its security.
Japan incorporated Dokdo as part of its territory in 1905 before colonizing the entire peninsula. Korea has been in effective control of the islets with a small coast guard unit posted there since its liberation in 1945.
By Song Sang-ho (email@example.com